Authors: Derek J. Thomas
Tags: #Zombie Apocalypse
“Half mile maybe.”
Hank grabbed his rifle.
The three of them raced off through the dark fog, hurrying
as fast as they could in the near darkness.
Tom listened as the screams continued.
His stomach knotted up with their fear filled
urgency. After a few agonizing minutes
the silence of morning returned. As much
as Tom wished for the screams to end, it was far worse when they had.
Not only was it more difficult to know which
direction to maintain, but the fear of what ended the screams created a deep
pit in the bottom of his stomach.
Just a few minutes later, the morning sun was beginning to
filter through the trees, burning off the low lying fog.
They were moving quickly now that they had
more light. After sliding down a steep
embankment they slowed to a stop. Having
covered a lot of ground, they needed something to tip them off on a direction
“Which way...we have to be close.”
“I know it. Keep
quiet, let’s listen.” Tom replied.
Listening intently they heard low grunting noises from
nearby. They all raised their weapons
and began stalking through the woods in pursuit of the noise.
As they got closer they could hear branches rustling
and cracking. Just ahead lay a large
fallen tree. It was clear the sounds
were coming from within its sheltering branches.
Tom swept around the side of the downed tree while keeping
his rifle trained on the source of the noise.
Vomit rose in his throat when he saw a small section of limbs cut back
for an entrance. His worst fears were
coming to realization. Dropping to his
knees, he peered into the opening and saw the backside of a mangled boot,
shifting and scuffling at the dirt.
Using one arm to hold his rifle out in front of him and the
other to help crawl through the small opening, Tom entered the makeshift
shelter. Relief flooded over him when he
saw only one body, and it was one of the infected hopelessly tangled in the
branches. The thing’s back was turned
toward Tom. Rather than waste a bullet,
Tom drew his knife and plunged the blade into the back of its skull.
Back out in the open, Tom said, “They were here.”
Tom shouted as loud as he could.
The time for subtlety was long past.
Tom stood in the small clearing, listening for a reply.
Looks like they took off this way, probably flushed by the
infected.” Hank said from
somewhere on the other side of the tree.
Tom and Rachael raced around the tree and found Hank was
already jogging away from them. They
quickly followed after him. The trail
Kelly and Sam left must have been easy for Hank to follow, because Tom was
having a difficult time keeping up. It
was only when they reached a steep hillside that Hank slowed enough for them to
“They went right up this.”
Hank said between labored breaths.
Tom continued past him, following the scuffs on the
ground. Reaching the top of the hill, he
could see it sloped away into a rocky ravine.
Partway down, climbing through the rocks, were two people, a woman and a
little boy. Just seeing them brought
tears to his eyes. Emotions that had
been pent up for so long flooded out, almost dropping him to his knees.
Both Kelly and Sam’s heads turned around, looking up at
He could hear Sam say.
Kelly collapsed to her knees and began
After Tom climbed his way down to them, Kelly said, “I love
you...I thought I had lost you.”
“I didn’t give up.
I’m so proud of you baby...both of you.”
He said while pulling both of them in for a hug.
Kelly buried her head on his chest and Sam
squeezed tight to one of his legs. Loud
grunts somewhere in the distance brought all of them back to reality.
“Let’s get up the hill...I have a couple people I want you to
meet.” Tom said.
Wiping tears from her
eyes, Kelly nodded her head. Tom scooped
Sam up in his arms and started climbing back up.
“What took so long Daddy?”
Tom let out a chuckle.
“Traffic buddy...traffic was real bad.”
Arriving back at the top of the hill, they found Rachael and
Hank waiting with huge smiles on their faces.
Tom made introductions all the way around.
Before they were done, all the adults had
tears streaming down their faces. A loud
grunt, followed by several growls put all the introductions to a halt.
“That sounded close.
We better get moving.” Tom said.
There was sudden movement from the other side of the
ravine. Two people burst out of the tree
line and stood on the edge, looking over at them.
They were both covered in filth and wore torn
up camo pants and shirts.
The bigger of the two wore a hunter’s orange
vest and the other had a pair of mirrored, aviator sunglasses on.
Aside from the choice of sunglasses, the two
would normally fit right in out in these woods.
They both spotted Tom and the group.
Sunglasses let out a loud growl and began an
uncontrolled charge down the hill into the ravine.
Safety Vest lifted his eyes to the sky and
let out several loud huffs into the sky.
From several directions around them came what sounded like return
huffs. Tom had always thought the
demented communicated to some extent and this was proof of it.
Most of the sounds were fairly distant, but
there were a few that were terrifyingly close.
Watching as Safety Vest began a charge down the hillside
after his companion, Tom said, “Go. Go.
Let’s get moving. Hank, lead the
way, I’ll cover the rear.”
“Where to Chief?”
“Not positive exactly where we are at, but North along this
ravine should lead to a tiny town.”
Before they could even get moving, a nearly naked man came
crashing through the brush behind them.
He made enough noise that Tom had time to pull his AR up to his shoulder
and sight through his scope. With a loud
boom, one side of the demented’s head blew away and he dropped to the ground
well short of Tom. The rifle shot echoed
loudly through the trees, surely not helping their situation.
“Go, go, go!”
Kelly grabbed her and Sam’s backpacks and raced after Hank
and Rachael. Tom glanced down the ravine
and saw the two in camo beginning to work their way
up the near side. Their angry,
determined faces stared up at him, eyes filled with hatred.
Rather than waste time and ammo, Tom turned
and followed the others.
The hillside made for uneven terrain, but lack of trees and
brush making the path relatively clear.
Frequently loud huffs were heard from behind them, and then answered by
more huffs in the distance to the sides and some in front.
Tom was easily able to keep up with the
others, so from time to time he would stop and check behind them to see if any
of the demented were in pursuit.
It was one of these times that Tom heard
screams from Kelly and Sam, followed by rifle shots.
Rushing back to the group, Tom saw Kelly and Sam lying on the
ground. A bleeding corpse lay next to
them, and Rachael stood in the background, her shotgun still pressed to her
shoulder, smoke trailing out of the barrel.
“Cover me.” Tom
shouted. He slung his rifle over his
shoulder and ran over to Kelly and Sam.
Grabbing Sam, he lifted him up to his side and used his other hand to
help Kelly to her feet. “I’ve got
him, let’s stay tight with Hank and Rachael.”
Kelly nodded in agreement.
Tom did not like his rifle being slung on his back, but they
were making much better time and he knew Hank and Rachael would do everything
in their power to keep them safe.
The morning was still cool, but Tom found himself dripping sweat
from exertion. Sam clung to his neck,
but was still extremely awkward to pack, and felt heavier and heavier every
minute. He knew he could not go on much
longer like this.
Hank pulled to a stop and raised his rifle.
He fired a shot and worked the bolt to rack
another round. Hesitating only
momentarily, he continued sprinting ahead.
Over his shoulder he yelled, “How much farther?”
Tom really had no idea, but instead said, “Almost
there.” For all he could remember it
might be several miles off, but hope kept people moving.
later, Tom could see multiple demented rushing up the hillside just ahead of
them. Hank was just past their position
and did not notice. Rachael on the other
hand, noticed them and pulled to a stop.
Lifting the shotgun to her shoulder, she fired a shot into the nearest
demented, hitting it in the in the chest.
The large man fell over backwards, rolling down the hill.
Directly behind him came three more.
Rachael racked another round and shouted, “Keep going...I’ll
catch up.” With a loud boom she fired
off another shot.
Tom felt helpless packing Sam, and hated to leave Rachael,
but knew they had to keep moving. He and
Kelly ran past her. Hank was just ahead
looking back at them. When he saw them
still coming, he turned and continued forward.
Another boom from Rachael’s shotgun sounded.
Just ahead, Hank came to a stop, pulling his
rifle up to his shoulder.
Boom. He fired a
shot, quickly loaded another round, and fired again.
They were getting pinned in.
Everything was happening too fast.
From behind them, Rachael fired off another shot, and then
another. Hank was moving again.
Kelly screamed from just ahead of Tom.
There was a demented crawling over the lip of
the ravine, reaching for her ankle. Tom
drew one of his pistols, pointed it at the thing’s head, and pulled the trigger.
It was too late, but Sam used his hands to
cover his ears. No longer
holding on to Tom’s shoulders, his weight shifted away and Tom nearly
lost him over the edge.
“Whoa! Hang on...almost
lost ya.” Tom
shouted. Sam quickly grabbed back around
Several quick shotgun
blasts sounded from behind them. Tom
looked back, but could no longer see Rachael.
Hank shouted from just ahead, “I see a house.”
Tom hesitated, unsure if he should follow Hank and Kelly, or
turn back and help Rachael. Holding Sam,
he knew he had to keep moving.
Passing through the next set of trees, he saw Hank and Kelly
racing across a short field that led to an old farmhouse.
A barbwire fence stood at the edge of the
field, between them and the house. A few
hundred yards down the fence, several demented raced their way.
Tom quickly followed after Hank and
Kelly. Partway across the field he heard
a couple more shotgun blasts from behind.
Rachael was in trouble.
Hank stopped at the fence and used one hand and one foot to
pry the top two strands apart, forming a large opening for Kelly to crawl
through. Once she was on the other side
he glanced back to see where Tom was at.
Rushing through the field, Tom yelled, “Get across...I’m going
to hand you Sam.”
Kelly held the wires apart for Hank to climb through.
As he got to the other side, Tom came running
up and immediately lifted Sam up over the wires.
“Go, get to the house.”
Tom unslung his rifle and turned down the fence line.
Just a few dozen feet away were several angry
demented charging toward him. The lead
one bared his teeth in an angry growl.
Raising his rifle to his shoulder, Tom squeezed off several rapid shots,
the rounds slamming into the demented.
The body recoiled from the shots, knees buckling, he toppled to the
ground. The fallen demented was immediately
replaced by two more. Continuing to pull
the trigger, Tom dropped both of them.
Before their bodies hit the ground, they were replaced by two more.
Even through the grime on their faces, Tom recognized on of
them. He was one of the checkout men at
the local grocery store. Those times
seemed so distant, almost like a past life.
Knowing Grocery Store would never recognize him, Tom pulled the
trigger. Nothing happened.
They were almost on top of him.
I haven’t shot enough to be out...jam
There was not enough time to clear and
re-charge his rifle. He went for his
sidearm, even knowing there would never be time to bring it to bear.
In a puff of red, Grocery Store’s head exploded.
The second one, a tall man wearing
only a pair of filthy, white underwear lunged at Tom,
knocking him to the ground. The wind was
knocked from Tom’s lungs as he slammed hard to the ground.
He was just able to get a forearm between him
and Underwear. Red, rage filled eyes
stared down at Tom. Spit flew out of Underwear’s
mouth as he growled and gnashed his teeth.
With his free arm, Tom brought his pistol around, held it to the thing’s
head, and pulled the trigger. Gore
spattered Tom’s face as Underwear’s head blew out the other side.
Tom hefted the limp body off.
Holstering his pistol and grabbing
his AR, Tom stood back up and surveyed the field.
There were no more demented near him.
Looking to the farmhouse, he saw Hank
standing on the worn out back porch, rifle in hand.
After a quick salute, he turned and disappeared
into the house. In the distance to the
side of the house, Tom could see movement.
It was far off, but coming this way.
Tom turned toward the forest to check on Rachael.
She was nowhere in sight and the forest was
Raising the rifle to his shoulder,
he scanned the tree line with the help of his scope’s magnification.
There was another loud boom from Rachael’s
shotgun. Still no
movement. He continued scanning
the trees, when he finally saw a flash of color.
Bursting through a thick stand of young pine
trees was Rachael, shotgun in one hand.
Seeing Tom, she turned slightly and began
sprinting directly toward him. Right
behind her a horde of demented raced out from between the trees, shrieking with
Tom turned, laid the rifle on the
ground, and climbed through the wires on the fence.
During the process, Hank’s rifle boomed from
the farmhouse. Tom grabbed his rifle and
quickly worked the slide to clear the breech.
With the jam cleared he was able to slam in another round.
Rising up, he saw Rachael sprinting across
the field, currently about halfway to the fence.
Behind her were at least a dozen demented.
Tom raised the rifle to his
shoulder and sighted through the scope.
His heart pounded in his chest when his view was filled with angry
faces. Rachael’s form filled a portion
of his view and made for a difficult shot.
Not wanting to risk it he side stepped several feet to one side, gaining
a better angle on her pursuers. Hank’s
rifle continued to fire from the farmhouse.
Tom could see an occasional demented drop out of the pack, a victim of
Hank’s lead. Picking one demented at a
time, Tom began squeezing the trigger.
He tried to remain focused, steady his breathing, and calm his already
Rachael stumbled and went to the
ground, disappearing out of view below the tall grass.
Tom heard something to his left,
along the fence line. He knew Rachael
was in trouble and needed every bit of his attention.
Ahead of him, he saw several
demented nearly on top of Rachael’s location.
Her head was just beginning to come into view above the grass.
Hank’s rifle boomed, dropping another demented.
Tom began rapidly pulling the trigger,
throwing as many bullets into the group as possible.
Tom’s rifle ran dry.
Still hearing something coming from his left, he dropped his rifle and
went for his sidearm. Pulling it up to a
ready position, he spun toward the noise and saw a couple demented barreling
his way. Firing off a quick burst of
shots, he dropped both of them to the ground.